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RealTime Economic Issues Watch

In RealTime posts, PIIE senior staff and colleagues discuss the fast-moving economic news, financial developments, and public policy choices confronting the United States and the world.

Recent Posts

The Future of Worldwide Income Distribution

by and Paolo Mauro | May 5th, 2015 | 09:11 am

The debate about income distribution has focused on the trend of rising inequality in the United States and other advanced economies. Worldwide, however, income distribution is becoming more equal. This video presents new evidence derived from surveys of households worldwide, which projects equality to improve further in the next 20 years. The main factor in […]

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Do Public Banks in Brazil Hurt Productivity?

by | May 1st, 2015 | 03:51 pm

Much is said about lagging productivity growth in Latin America, particularly in comparison to emerging markets in other regions. The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has just released a book entitled Rethinking Productive Development, and one need not go beyond its initial pages to find the diagnosis: Reversing pervasive low productivity in Latin America requires concerted […]

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A New Negotiation Team in Greece Must Now Close the Deal with Europe

by | April 30th, 2015 | 12:38 pm

The unceremonious sidelining of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis of Greece from the negotiations between Athens and the euro area opens a new phase in the crisis. Whether a solution is in the offing remains to be seen. But as predicted, Varoufakis’s efforts to rally support for his cause in international circles by openly criticizing Europe’s […]

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Pension Reform in Bulgaria—Increasing Youth Unemployment

by | April 27th, 2015 | 03:04 pm

Like many countries in Eastern Europe and the developed world generally, Bulgaria faces the challenge of unfunded liabilities in its pension system. Reforming the system has been debated in Bulgaria over the past decade. Recent proposals for reform, including the introduction of higher social security taxes in lieu of raising the mandatory retirement age, and […]

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Brazil’s Adjustment: It’s (not) Mostly Fiscal

by | April 23rd, 2015 | 04:51 pm

Much has been said recently about the urgent need for fiscal adjustment in Brazil. Finance Minister Joaquim Levy conveyed this message during his trip to Washington in April, and President Dilma Rousseff began her second term in office in January by moving toward the removal of key price distortions that have plagued the economy for […]

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The IMF’s Harmful Debt Restructuring Proposal

by | April 22nd, 2015 | 04:35 pm

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board will soon decide how far to go in imposing costs on creditors when a country requests large scale IMF assistance. Early indications based on current staff proposals are that its decision will weaken the international financial architecture and the structure of global capital markets. The current IMF staff […]

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What Prevents Pension Reform in Russia?

by | April 22nd, 2015 | 08:59 am

The Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, announced in mid-April that without a major pension reform later this year, next year’s budget would be in jeopardy. Shortly afterwards, the press secretary of President Vladimir Putin, Dmtriy Peskov, said that nothing of that sort would take place and that “the President has many times stressed that reforms […]

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Ukraine’s Bond Restructuring: Surgery, Conspiracy, and Campaign

by | April 17th, 2015 | 06:03 pm

Debt restructuring is the second largest source of outside financing for Ukraine’s new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program [pdf]. The Fund itself brings $17.5 billion over four years; $9.6 billion comes from governments and other multilaterals (including Europe, the United States, and most recently, China), leaving $15.3 billion for the "debt operation." The jargon makes […]

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Russia’s Bond: It’s Official! (… and Private … and Anything Else It Wants to Be …)

by | April 17th, 2015 | 05:53 pm

Ukraine’s bond restructuring talks are in high gear, and, as ever, Russia is the trouble du jour. Not only is it threatening to hold out in the bond deal and take Ukraine to arbitration, Russia also seems poised to block International Monetary Fund (IMF) disbursements to Ukraine using an arcane Fund policy on "lending into […]

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Diversity among Advanced Economies in Rebounding from Crisis

by and Jan Zilinsky | April 15th, 2015 | 04:35 pm

Newly released projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook highlight the diversity of experiences among advanced economies in rebounding from the crisis. Although most economies (including all economies shown in this blog post) are projected to return to positive growth this year and the next, differences in GDP levels and […]

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